Skip to main content

Bergdahl, Boko Haram and Benghazi

By Newt Gingrich
updated 4:02 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Newt Gingrich says the problems with the Bergdahl case are part of a larger pattern
  • He links the Nigerian terror group Boko Haram and deaths in Benghazi to soldier's release
  • He calls the swap for five prisoners a surrender, not a negotiation

Editor's note: Newt Gingrich is a co-host of CNN's "Crossfire," which airs at 6:30 p.m. ET weekdays, and author of a new book, "Breakout: Pioneers of the Future, Prison Guards of the Past, and the Epic Battle That Will Decide America's Fate." A former speaker of the House, he was a candidate in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries. Ali Meshkin is a researcher for Gingrich. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the authors.

(CNN) -- The third "B" in the collapse of our national security system and the State Department hit this week.

The release of five very high-value terrorist leaders as a swap for one U.S. serviceman was the third strike against the Obama administration's policy of defeat, dishonesty and self-delusion.

When Congress starts investigating the Bergdahl case it must broaden the analysis to look at the common patterns which connect it to the administration's approach on two other national security questions: Boko Haram and Benghazi.

The first was Hillary Clinton's State Department's decision from 2011 to 2013 to reject requests by the FBI, CIA, Justice Department and many congressmen and senators on both sides of the aisle to list Nigeria's Boko Haram as a terrorist organization.

Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich

Well before Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls from a school in northern Nigeria in April, the State Department's arguments for keeping the Nigerian extremist group off the list were almost exactly the arguments used to distort what happened in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, and to justify releasing five extraordinarily dangerous Taliban leaders.

Boko Haram, we were told, was a local organization without aspirations to international terrorism. This assessment required us to ignore the fact that Boko Haram's first base camp in northern Nigeria was called "Afghanistan" in honor of the Taliban. It required us to ignore the fact that the group burned Christian churches on Christmas Day. It required us to ignore the fact that members of Boko Haram went to Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan for training. None of this, self-delusional "experts" in the State Department assured us, meant that Boko Haram was a "real" terrorist organization.

Then in 2012 came riots in Cairo and Benghazi, among other places in the Muslim world. These were not caused by vicious, anti-American religious extremists, the experts assured us -- that would have violated the State Department ethos of appeasing others and blaming ourselves -- but by a YouTube video. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton eventually went so far as to disavow the content of the video on behalf of the American people.

Just as the apology machine began to run at full speed, blaming the obscure filmmaker and absolving the mob of its permanent willingness to attack the United States for any reason, along came the attack that killed the American ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi.

The self-deluding national security machine lied to the entire country and denied what really happened at Benghazi. The driving force in the lies was the Clinton State Department, which specifically asked for the intelligence community analysis to be changed.

Bergdahl's captivity: Fact vs. fiction
Fmr. Navy SEAL: 'This was choreographed'
What if the handoff had gone awry?
The days before Bergdahl's capture

Now we have the most disastrous of the three "B's": Bergdahl.

While we can be glad an American soldier has been returned from captivity, the release of five senior enemy commanders is a defeat of the first order. Taliban leader Mullah Omar declared the swap a great victory. The Taliban got everything it asked for. This swap was a surrender, not a negotiation.

It's likely that the five Taliban leaders will all go into action immediately. The notion that their presence in Qatar restricts them is just one more example of self-delusion and dishonesty by the State Department. Both the Treasury and the State Department have identified Qatar as a hot bed of fundraising for radical Islamists. The Qataris have consistently meddled in Middle Eastern countries on the side of radicals and against the U.S.

The return of the senior Taliban commanders is as big a defeat as America has suffered in a very long time.

Who knows how many will die when these five leaders resume their war against the West?

Taliban video shows Bowe Bergdahl's release in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama released the five Taliban leaders without ever consulting his Afghan "allies," who must feel very threatened between the previous week's announcement by the president of an arbitrary American withdrawal date and now the unilateral release of five of their mortal enemies.

The Left's selfishness, self-centeredness and duplicity abandons allies when they become "inconvenient."

Obama's foreign policy successes seem to come at enormous cost to other people.

These are photos obtained by WikiLeaks that match the names of the detainees released by the Department of Defense. Their release was in exchange for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who was being held by the Taliban. The Department of Defense would neither confirm nor deny their accuracy. Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa was an early member of the Taliban in 1994 and was interior minister during the Taliban's rule. He was arrested in Pakistan and was transferred to Guantanamo in May 2002. During questioning, Khairkhwa denied all knowledge of extremist activities. These are photos obtained by WikiLeaks that match the names of the detainees released by the Department of Defense. Their release was in exchange for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who was being held by the Taliban. The Department of Defense would neither confirm nor deny their accuracy. Khair Ulla Said Wali Khairkhwa was an early member of the Taliban in 1994 and was interior minister during the Taliban's rule. He was arrested in Pakistan and was transferred to Guantanamo in May 2002. During questioning, Khairkhwa denied all knowledge of extremist activities.
Guantanamo detainees swapped for Bergdahl
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
Guantanamo detainees swapped Guantanamo detainees swapped

The president's argument that we simply had to cut a deal for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl because of his health goes against the American experience in every recent war. In Vietnam, many American prisoners of war were held longer than Bergdahl and 114 died in captivity. In the Korean War, more than 7,100 Americans became prisoners of war and just over 2,700 are known to have died in captivity.

The six soldiers at center of Bergdahl debate

What President Obama really did this week is to guarantee a much lower military interest in risking life and limb to take high-value prisoners alive given that there is now a possibility that they will released in the future. Instead, missions will be more focused on killing than capturing these targets.

Hillary Clinton wanted tougher deal for Bergdahl, former officials say

The Obama team clearly believed that chanting "We Don't Leave Americans Behind" would be a winning argument. Every spokesperson for the administration repeated the line. Susan Rice, now national security adviser, replayed her post-Benghazi role of going on Sunday shows and either misleading or lying to the American people, claiming that this was "a joyous day."

One final example of the Left's passion for self-delusion and dishonesty.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel asserted that we never negotiated with the Taliban. Other administration figures took up that claim.

Opinion: Five tough ethics issues in Bergdahl swap

It is so pathetic a lie it is hard to understand how he could say it with a straight face.

The claim is that the Qataris talked to the Taliban.

In this case, of course, the Qataris were our agents and were negotiating for us. But we are asked to indulge the deceit.

The State Department may be the second-most urgent reform target after Veterans Affairs. Congress should link together the three "B's" and understand that we are faced with delusion across our national security apparatus.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 11:30 PM EST, Sun December 28, 2014
Les Abend: Before we reach a conclusion on the outcome of AirAsia Flight QZ8501, it's important to understand that the details are far too limited to draw a parallel to Flight 370
updated 8:27 PM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
The ability to manipulate media and technology has increasingly become a critical strategic resource, says Jeff Yang.
updated 11:17 AM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
Today's politicians should follow Ronald Reagan's advice and invest in science, research and development, Fareed Zakaria says.
updated 8:19 AM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
Artificial intelligence does not need to be malevolent to be catastrophically dangerous to humanity, writes Greg Scoblete.
updated 10:05 AM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
Historian Douglas Brinkley says a showing of Sony's film in Austin helped keep the city weird -- and spotlighted the heroes who stood up for free expression
updated 8:03 AM EST, Fri December 26, 2014
Tanya Odom that by calling only on women at his press conference, the President made clear why women and people of color should be more visible in boardrooms and conferences
updated 6:27 PM EST, Sat December 27, 2014
When oil spills happen, researchers are faced with the difficult choice of whether to use chemical dispersants, authors say
updated 1:33 AM EST, Thu December 25, 2014
Danny Cevallos says the legislature didn't have to get involved in regulating how people greet each other
updated 6:12 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Marc Harrold suggests a way to move forward after the deaths of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
updated 8:36 AM EST, Wed December 24, 2014
Simon Moya-Smith says Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket, who was killed by law enforcement officers, deserves justice.
updated 2:14 PM EST, Wed December 24, 2014
Val Lauder says that for 1,700 years, people have been debating when, and how, to celebrate Christmas
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Raphael Sperry says architects should change their ethics code to ban involvement in designing torture chambers
updated 10:35 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Paul Callan says Sony is right to call for blocking the tweeting of private emails stolen by hackers
updated 7:57 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As Christmas arrives, eyes turn naturally toward Bethlehem. But have we got our history of Christmas right? Jay Parini explores.
updated 11:29 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
The late Joe Cocker somehow found himself among the rock 'n' roll aristocracy who showed up in Woodstock to help administer a collective blessing upon a generation.
updated 4:15 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
History may not judge Obama kindly on Syria or even Iraq. But for a lame duck president, he seems to have quacking left to do, says Aaron Miller.
updated 1:11 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Terrorism and WMD -- it's easy to understand why these consistently make the headlines. But small arms can be devastating too, says Rachel Stohl.
updated 1:08 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Ever since "Bridge-gate" threatened to derail Chris Christie's chances for 2016, Jeb Bush has been hinting he might run. Julian Zelizer looks at why he could win.
updated 1:53 PM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
New York's decision to ban hydraulic fracturing was more about politics than good environmental policy, argues Jeremy Carl.
updated 3:19 PM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
On perhaps this year's most compelling drama, the credits have yet to roll. But we still need to learn some cyber lessons to protect America, suggest John McCain.
updated 5:39 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
updated 8:12 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
updated 12:09 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
updated 6:45 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
updated 4:34 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT